Hope Meadow is about to spring to life! Many of the plugs we planted last year are starting to emerge. Wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa is dotting the meadow with green and purple leaves. This plant attracts pollinators with a long proboscis (tongue) due to the long tubular flowers. Pollinators that are attracted to bergamot are large butterflies like Swallowtails and hummingbirds. Many cutleaf coneflowers are also emerging. This pollinator favorite has beautiful yellow flowers. We planted seeds last year with a seeder that planted them in rows. This year you can see the seedlings are starting to emerge in green rows throughout the meadow.
We mowed a large portion of the meadow to help the native seedlings get a head start this season, and they already have. The first few years in establishing a native plant meadow can be messy. In the future we will be mowing only small sections each year on a rotating basis. This is to avoid killing all of the overwintering insects that are vital to the meadow. Many native bees overwinter in the standing stems and stalks of the plants in the meadow. In the spring, they emerge and start pollinating the early flowers. Mowing the entire meadow can significantly impact the survival rate of these overwintering insects. This year it was essential to mow a large portion of the meadow to lessen the impact of invasive plants that do not offer sustenance to our native pollinators and allow the native plants to thrive. We did not mow the stand of Dogbane as this is a critical plant as it blooms very early and provides necessary nectar to bees early in the season.